Examination: Elbow

There are 6 main concepts that need to be remembered for ALL of the regional examination of the musculoskeletal system:

  1. Position always position your patient as you would like to examine them before you begin
  2. Look inspect and observe the patient and around the patient's bedside
  3. Feel for example, feeling a joint to see if it is hot or swollen
  4. Move actively (the patient moves the joint) then passively (you do the movements for them)
  5. Function can the patient move their joints in order to complete day to day tasks?
  6. Special tests if applicable

  • Wash hands
  • Introduce yourself
  • Ask permission to examine the relevant part of the body
  • Expose the patient ideally in underwear only, at least exposing the joint of interest and the joints above and below this
  • Reposition the patient standing up at first

  • Position standing up

  • At front, back and sides of elbow
  • For signs such as;
    • Carrying angle
    • Nodules
    • Olecranon swelling (may suggest bursitis)
    • Psoriatic skin changes

  • Temperature
  • For nodules
  • With the elbow at 90 degrees:
    • Feel the olecranon for pain and deformity
    • The medial and lateral epicondyles for pain and deformity

  • Actively and passively:
    • Extension
    • Flexion
    • Pronation
    • Supination

  • Put your hand to your mouth

To conclude the examination:
  • Thank the patient
  • Tell them they can get dressed now
  • Offer to examine the joint above and the joint below
  • Consider neurological examination of the limb examined

The complete examination of the musculoskeletal system includes:

written by: celine_lakra, first posted on: 09/01/12,21:45

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